68 interiors+sources october2017 interiorsandsources.com
The role of interior design advocacy has changed signifi- cantly over the last three decades as the profession has gained recognition, created educational standards, and expanded its role as vital to the health, safety, and well-being of people in the built environment. In July, IIDA members from
different specialties, generations, and parts of the country gathered
at IIDA headquarters in Chicago to discuss what advocacy means to
them, how it has changed, and how designers can get involved. The
following is what they had to say.
Why does interior design advocacy continue to be critical?
Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, Northern Pacific
Chapter: Advocating for our industry is about
reshaping public perception and the perception
of our colleagues in allied professions so they
understand what it means to practice commercial
interior design. Being an advocate for the
profession allows me to shape my story about
how the profession is contributing to the world.
Susanne Molina, FIIDA, Southern California
Chapter: I’ve found that within the commercial
interior design industry, we are not always able
to communicate effectively about what we do.
Advocacy is ultimately about having a common
vocabulary we can use to educate the public
about what interior design is.
Roberta Pennington, IIDA, Oregon Chapter:
When interior designers sit at the table with our
collaborators, I’m the only one who needs to list
off a resume in order to explain what I do. Other
people say, “I’m a registered architect” or “I’m a
registered engineer.” My hope is that our advocacy
efforts will eventually allow me to say, “I’m a
certified interior designer in the state of Oregon,”
and everyone will know what I mean.
How has advocating for the industry changed?
Kelly Ennis, IIDA, Mid-Atlantic Chapter:
Advocating for commercial interior design has
changed drastically over the last 25 years. We’ve
gone from being considered people with “taste”
to a credentialed and acknowledged profession in
many jurisdictions. We still have goals to achieve,
but we have the acknowledgement of our peers
and stronger educational programs.
SC: Over the last decade, advocacy has changed from a conversation that would almost become a conflict to a respectful
dialogue about interior design, how we practice, and what
recognition we deserve for contributing to the building and
RP: We’ve gained more respect from our design associates in
architecture and engineering. My peers in architecture understand what interior design is and feel emboldened to speak to
their peers at the chapter and board level about what we do and
why interior design needs a legal definition.
What can interior designers do to advocate for the profession?
Carmen Preston, IIDA, Alabama
Chapter: Talk to students about the
importance of advocacy. I go to the universities
in my area to inspire students to become
commercial interior designers, take the
NCIDQ, and advocate for the profession.
Starting at the student level has given grass
roots advocacy new energy.
RP: Get involved with local politics. I stay involved with IIDA
because the organization respects the grassroots advocacy
efforts and understands that this is a local political issue—
every jurisdiction in America has different interpretations of how
building codes should be read.
Clara Mechelle Karnai, IIDA, Texas/
Oklahoma Chapter: Get familiar with the
legislators in your district. Visit them at their
offices and let them know that licensed
interior design is important to you and why
it should be important to them and their
Jessie Santini, IIDA, Pennsylvania/New
Jersey/Delaware Chapter: Be able to tell
your story as a professional interior designer.
Have that elevator pitch ready when you
get in front of your local representatives or
even your father, your mother, and friends.
Educate everyone around you about the
importance of what we do to protect the
health, safety, and well-being of the public.
For IIDA advocacy resources and information, visit advocacy.iida.org.
By Louisa Fitzgerald | Photography courtesy of IIDA
IIDA members offer insight on what interior designers should be doing to help others better understand the profession.